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The Lockdown Diary - DAY 42

Posted 5th May 2020 at 19:09 by Cormack
Would that today were Douglas Adams's answer to Life, The Universe and Everything.

Had an unexpected call from an ex-colleague (we still meet -when we can - on occasion, text and email fairly regularly but call less frequently) during a pretty pleasant work dial-in, so I had to decline but texted him to tell him I'd ring back in ten minutes or so when I'd be done. He'd left a message and sounded a bit ominous.

Rang him back expecting bad news, that an ex-colleague had passed away, you know the feeling when you get a call like that. Could not think for the life of me who it would be and found myself hoping his dad was OK, I know he's in his 80s and there's some virus going about...

I rang back and as news goes, I was utterly stunned. A bloke I worked with for years, Steve, had passed away. He'd have been 54. He was a genial bloke who annoyed the bejesus out of a lot of people ("Steve drives me nuts when..." was one of those starting phrases you'd hear very often ) but he was a very sharp-minded guy who knew his stuff, had the personal ethic that he'd help anyone, never lost his rag in work (but for once, January 2013, I kid you not, it was that rare) had a wicked (as in the sense) sense of humour that erred on the right side of caution. He could piss off a customer with consummate ease simply by replying with an answer that they wouldn't like, delivered in a way they'd really, really hate because like it or not, they were utterly wrong and they weren't listening, so he'd drag them back. You can imagine how I would find him to be a bit of a kindred spirit...

Seems he had developed a particularly aggressive brain cancer and had gone from recurring headaches for which he was under the hospital and still being investigated, to his dying at the weekend in a very short spell. I left that workplace eighteen months ago and he was fine, was rarely, if ever, ill and indeed, he gifted me a bottle of Mount Gay, Barbados' finest, when I did go and which I'm still only halfway through. I'd known him for a long, long time, we'd worked side by side for a good bit where he took upon himself the job of my early warning system with the Crohn's as he could see I was suffering in silence just by looking up. He'd had a career of redundancies in the 80s that had put a decent wedge behind him and he was a man of few vices, no, expenses is better - he like his brie and grapes, the fermented-into-reds, always had a car that could perform but without being a drain and in later years, would holiday with his partner to quiet, well-attended sun spots two or three times a year. A running gag of his would be "times are a bit tougher, I had to break into (the current year -3)'s salary". He'd also sing, in a flat monotone, the same line over and over, with a roughly one-in-six chance of having the lyrics right, and if corrected, would not correct but would grin. He became a workplace legend for that, we even thought about making an album/playlist where he'd Shatnerised () every single track - he had favourites...

He was one for devilment but I consider him to have been fundamentally honest to a fault (people don't like that, you know?) and who'd carry the can for any cock-ups that were his doing - he was once 'the other man' in an affair which was so out of character as to be borderline unbelievable, especially as she was quite a bit younger and a propos of nothing, looked a bit like Roger Daltrey. Had a thing for women in specs as well. He was one of life's constants and I am truly stunned he has gone. I clearly took it badly as Mrs C spent the day checking I was OK. A few other ex-colleague friends rang later on to let me know and I dare say a fair few more would were it not for this lockdown. That we won't get to at least see him off is a travesty.

Recommended listening - The Rolling Stones, Ruby Tuesday

In honour, you'd sing his signature "Goodbye Ruby Tuesday" and then I can't for the life of me remember where he'd go for the rest of that line. Which is odd because he'd sing it over and over and over and over in that flat monotone. The only thing that he had that went close for me in terms of signature was "Hey Jude", which he retitled "Hey Dude" for starters. After a while, you reach a nirvana where any possible irritation goes and you promote it to cult leadership behaviour.

He was a generally easy-going, self-confident guy, 'massive sexual predator' as I once described him (he laughed and agreed) who once offered me a massive interest-free cash loan (to buy a house, no less) which, when I said "I could run off tomorrow", he replied "You wouldn't, you've got an honest face" which may just be the most appreciated, humbling thing anyone has ever said to me, and partly because of the insight - he's bang on but how do you see that?

I've tried not to swear in this blog because when I do it's largely for effect anyway but if it's my blog, what's the point? However, cancer can fuck right off, the cunt. He was happy pootling along, minding his own business and it's a darker world without him. I will miss him even if I don't see him. It's like when Bowie died (he did a Bowie song - Rebel Rebel - where he changed the repeated title to a two-syllable surname of Paul, another colleague. Just the one line again ) - everything was fine when he was there, he was a constant when you thought 'What happens now he's gone? Can they do that?'

Even to the end at work together, he was a massive help to me when I had that shunt in 2017, still haven't driven since, and his product knowledge was nonpareil. I could and did view and listen to his holiday snaps and stories and he was never boring with them - how rare is that? - and I've since found out that he and Di married around a week before he died, which to me suggests that whatever little control he had over it all at the end, he still got to go on at least some of his own terms.

See you, Steve.

Stay well everyone.
Total Comments 2


Mister Logic's Avatar
I like Steve already, even though it's a bit late now. You should send your blog-post (is that what they're called?) to the funeral as his eulogy.
Posted 6th May 2020 at 17:49 by Mister Logic Mister Logic is online now
Cormack's Avatar
That's just it, ML, he won't get a funeral. I'd possibly break ranks, mask up, whatever I had to if he did and he'd advise me against it, which gets into the realms of paradox. Lord knows what his wife will do now - they were all but inseparable
Posted 6th May 2020 at 20:45 by Cormack Cormack is offline
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